Extremes

In the light, there is a darkness and in the darkness, a light. It is the way with us all. Be a prisoner of neither Bogan nor Ashla. Strive to live in balance. As Tython itself teaches us, it is dangerous to do otherwise. And the danger is there—always.
~Ketu – Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm 1

The Je’daii Order was an ancient organization unified by its belief and observance of the Force on the planet Tython, in the galaxy’s Deep Core. Focusing on maintaining a balance in the Force, a state at which Tython was itself hospitable, the Je’daii saw the Force as three aspects of a whole; the Ashla (light), the Bogan (Dark), and the Bendu (balance). They saw this duality in the Force represented in the night sky of Tython in the form of two natural satellites; one bathed in light, the Ashla, another shrouded in darkness, the Bogan. In keeping with their view of balance, Je’daii who fell too far to either the light or dark were exiled to one of the moons to meditate until they returned to balance.
~Copied from Wookipedia

With the current plot of Rebels teamed with Luke’s ominous words in the trailer for The Last Jedi, many people are discussing the possibility of Grey Jedi becoming a thing as well as just the Force and Jedi in general.  Just this past Friday, I went in for a fitting for a Amazon series I am working on this week, and ended up in a debate with one of the crew guys, who was all excited that he thought Star Wars was going Grey Jedi.  I cannot say what Disney/LFL plans, when you look at the origins of the Jedi though (at least within legends), the balance between dark and light was the whole focus of the Jedi.

Extremes are usually bad, and the original Jedi order knew that.  Too much food will make you sick and overweight.  Too little food will make you malnourished.  Too little sun will cause Vitamin D deficiencies and possibly depression (those who have experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder can attest to this), too much sun can result in skin cancer.  To little water and you can become dehydrated, too much water can cause hyponatremia (the inside of cells flood due to abnormally low sodium and electrolyte levels in your blood stream) and can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.  ANYTHING in excess is bad, the key is to find moderation.

This is true too with the Force.  The appearance of the unrelenting lawman is a popular trope in fiction; the character that follows the law to the letter and makes no exceptions for any reason.  This person is often a villain, and ends up either learning the error in their ways, or ends up destroying themselves (think Inspector Javert from Les Miserables, who after realizing the man he spent his life chasing is not the evil villain he made him out to be, commits suicide because he is unable to reconcile his world to this reality).  This is ultimately what happen to the Jedi Order.Not only did they become too focused on following the “light side” of the Force, but they got lost in the political and war time extremes that came with serving the republic.  They lost the stance that Qui-Gon enforced when on Naboo; “I can only protect you, I cannot fight a war for you.”

The Jedi as they were had fallen too far twords the Ashla, as it were, and needed to find balance once again, as was we all on our own Jedi paths, as well as in all the paths we pursue in our lives.

Assuming Tone

While the internet makes communication easier and faster in most cases, it also tends to cause a great deal of confusion in the matter of tone of voice.  When you cannot hear a persons tone, you may misinterpret something completely innocent as being snide, combative, or sarcastic.  Emoji’s can help clarify this in a casual setting, but the use of emoji’s is not considered professional.  In addition, a language difference of any sort can cause increased confusion.  Many times my own writing is misinterpreted because I tend to write more formally, and like to experiment with words for variety.  I have had people who learned English as a second language think I was trying to be a smart ass because of this, when I was not intentionally using big words, it is just how I talk/write (it was my manager at a job when I was about 20 years old, she was Korean, barely spoke English).

One of my recent blogs came under scrutiny from a few people for assumed tone, when what I was doing was simply listing off data.  Rather than question me, they questioned the person who had posted a link to that entry, but they informed me and I was able to address it.  Still, for the sake of clarity, I try very hard NOT to use a tone in my blog posts.  I will often re-write something half a dozen times because I find myself becoming too worked up, and I have even shelved posts I could not find a way to word without my own emotion.  My own opinions, yes, but not an excess of emotionalism.   That is one of the reasons I typically write my blog entries weeks, even months in advance; it gives me a chance to ruminate on what I have written and see if I want to add anything or change the wording.

Fact is, you cannot assume tone.  If you think someone is writing something a certain way, especially if you do not know them well, it is better to take a step back and look at just the words, removing all assumption of tone. If you are still unsure, ask the person to clarify, and take care to do so without adding your own accusatory tone, which could only serve to turn a misunderstanding into a conflict.

Jedi Robes

Every now and then the topic of Jedi Robes surges in the community.  Certain people wear them, and demand allowances for them in situations where they may not be appropriate, causing a stir both in the Jedi community and in their local community.  They claim that it is a uniform, or that it is the dress required by their religion.  Most of what I think on that can be summed up in two quotes:

“The tunics, robes, and cloaks worn by Jedi are honored traditions, but not uniforms.  From the time they become Padawans, Jedi are free to dress as they choose.”

~The Visual Dictionary of Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones (p16) – Edited by David West Reynolds, Robert E. Barnes, Don Bies, and John Goodson.

“Jedi robes are virtually indistinguishable from the simple robes worn by many species throughout the galaxy.  This signifies the Jedi pledge to the service and protection of even the most humble galactic citizen.

~The Visual Dictionary of Star Wars, Episode I – Attack of the Clones (p15) – Edited by David West Reynolds, Robert E. Barnes, Don Bies, and John Goodson.

Throughout the fiction there are numerous examples of Jedi who do not wear the standard robes (Ashoka Tano for the most known example).

There are also numerous examples of Jedi who even though they DO wear the standard robes normally, dress differently when the situation requires it (Qui-Gon to blend in on  Tatooine puts a poncho over his robes, Anakin dresses differently when escorting Padmé to Naboo in order to go unnoticed, and if I looked harder, I am sure I could find examples that do not apply to disguises, but I am typing this at work).

The robes are just clothing, and are not required attire.

The purpose of a Jedi is to quell conflict, and encourage peace and diplomacy.  If the wearing of “standard” robes causes conflict, undue attention, or other issues, the first instinct of a Jedi should be to wear something else, not to cause a big ruckus over their “religious rights” (the question of religion not to be addressed at this moment).

In Anticipation of August…

If you read this from the blog page, you may notice I added a widget to the sidebar for the countdown to the anniversary of this blog.  Oddly enough, the anniversary is the day before the California Jedi Gathering.  It is also around the time of when I joined the Jedi Community back in 1999 (exact date lost to the ezboard purge).

Over the next four-ish months, I am hoping to come up with a new name for this blog.  You can only be “returning” for so long.  I have some ideas I have tossed around, but nothing that has quite snapped into place just yet.  Suggestions are welcome.  Maybe I will even come up with a logo by then…though doubtful, as I am not very good with creating graphics (just editing them).

Judge for Yourself

In any group, in any community, there is always “gossip.”  Sometimes it is meant maliciously, other times people are just curious, and other times they might really be looking out for you.  For example, you join a new group, and someone warns you to “watch out for Harvey…he is really two faced.”  (Yes…that was a Batman reference…embrace the geekiness).  They are probably not trying to spread rumors, they probably have just been burned by Harvey and are warning you so that you do not get hurt as well.

And maybe Harvey is as they say (well…we know he is…just do not let him flip that damn coin), but you could also get someone saying that a person is a real jerk for other reasons that may or may not be true.  That person probably has other people in their lives that would say the exact opposite.  A person’s opinion of someone or something is always going to be colored by their own experience.  Maybe Tony thinks Nick is overly strict or judgmental because Tony was being very lazy and doing just the minimum to get by, but Nick is actually a very reasonable and laid back guy who just wants people to pull their own weight.   With mentors especially, you hear of someone being really strict and demanding, but if they are a good mentor they are doing it to help you improve and grow.

People will always spin a story to favor them.  If they had a bad experience, no matter what the reason, they will spin it.  They may not like someone because they did not agree with them, but that does not mean a person is a bad person.  You see that trope used all the time in TV shows…two people tell the same story as they “remember it” and then you find the truth was somewhere in the middle.

This is also  true about things and places.  Like hearing a very negative movie review and  then seeing the movie for yourself and loving it.  Or having a friend tell you all about how horrible a restaurant is, but having a lovely experience when you go.  Everyone has their own expectations and preferences, we will never all like and dislike the same things.

Judge people and things for yourself, do not judge entirely on what other people tell you.  If you receive a warning about a person, listen, keep it in mind, but get to know that person for yourself.  Go places and watching moves to form your own judgement.  You will miss out on so much if you base everything you do on what others say, and that person others warned you about may just be one of the best people to ever enter your life.

Paying for Training

In an idealistic world, the Jedi of our reality would be like the Jedi of the movies.  Sanctioned by the government, with several bases that we live at when not out on missions and all of our basic need provided for.  Unfortunately, I do not see that happening…well…ever.  The reality of it is, that we all function independently, and while there may be groups that we belong to, chances are, there will never be a group that is able to provide basic living needs, unless one of us wins the lottery and decided to invest it all in the Jedi.  So, we must provide for ourselves.  Like everyone else in the world, we must find a job/career that we are a good at, and hopefully that we also somewhat enjoy and is in harmony with our path.

As groups progress however, there is always a push to be recognized, and to be the official group.  In that, they try to look and act more official, websites, newsletters, ecc.  This stuff CAN cost money, and it can be tempting, and seem even reasonable to those in charge, to consider charging fees to its members.  Suddenly, not only are we not provided for like in the Star Wars Universe, but it is the exact opposite and it is costing us money to be a Jedi?

Can it cost money?  Yes, but you can also do it all for free.  Sure, you can build a fancy site with a domain name, and have leaders who are dedicated to doing nothing but web design, writing newsletters, writing training, ecc.  However, if the goal is disseminating knowledge, you can do it for free.  There are free servers that will allow you to create a basic site, sure you will need to have a silly address that is not a fancy “www.myawesometemplename.com,” but it still serves the purpose.  Get a free domain, get a free forum, hell, get a blog ;).  Even if you want a fancy domain name or such, they are not terribly expensive.  I pay $10/month for website hosting…I could probably get cheaper…from what I hear, registering a domain is even less than that.  The purpose is the sharing of knowledge, not of money.

If there is too much work for one or two people to do on their own while still having jobs, then consider restructuring the workload somehow, either by better pacing, or by bringing in others to help (some tasks can be great experience for students, and there could be friends and family who are not interested in the path themselves, but support it and are willing to help…not everyone helping with the running of a group must be a knight).

We live in an age where information is increasingly available online, for free.  To my knowledge, there are no Jedi groups that offer anything that cannot be found at other groups, or through personal reading and research.  Being a Jedi is something that will probably never make someone rich, but it is not about that.  If you want to be rich and a Jedi, pursue a career with lucrative possibilities, there are many out there that still work with being a Jedi.  And if you are considering a group that does charge, really dig in and find out what it is that they are charging for.  Chances are, it is nothing you cannot find elsewhere…in fact, you could probably even find better.  Save your money for more important things.

Mock Gathering – Disney World

Okay, usually Mock Gatherings are focused on staying under a certain budget, but I am going to blow that a little for this one.  Arguments have been made that people use their vacation time in order to go out to a Jedi Gathering, so they should have an aspect of fun.  So this Mock Gathering, is going to be coming at this from a reverse position, a vacation spot, still kept as cheap as possible yet more expensive than usual, tailored to the Jedi.

Why Disney?  Well, I am there now.  This week is Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida; and Opie and I have headed down early in order to visit the Disney parks and Universal.  Since Star Wars is now Disney, I thought it would be fun, especially since it is an easy side trip for people who attend celebrations.  I will have to do a Disneyland one eventually, for when Celebration is back in Anaheim, but that can wait two years.

To start, accommodations.  Rather than search for an AirBnB location, I am just going to go with putting us into one of the Disney Budget hotels.  True, there is no private meeting area, but they provide free parking to guests, free parking at the park if you are a guest, and free shuttles to and from the parks.  Plus they have the cafeterias on site that accept the dining plan if people want to go that route.  The rates vary, typically around $175/night, I just got one in April for $152/night though.  Like going to a convention, you can choose whether you want the privacy and just have one or two people in the room, which would drive up the cost, or if you want to split the room four ways to save money and double up on the beds (I have even gone there with five and had one on the floor).

Park tickets can also vary.  Only doing the four main parks, if you do one per day there is currently a deal for $279+tax, which is a great deal…who knows if that would be available when this hypothetical trip is planned though.  Normally, a four day ticket, one park per day, is $350.  Say you wanted to do only two days, two parks a day, a two day ticket with park hopper is $259.  Obviously there are plenty of variations on this.  In addition to the four main parks, there are two water parks.  Each park is $57-62 (depending on blackout dates).  Of course a person could go on this trip and decide to opt out of certain parks, so this would be very subjective in price.  Now, things for Jedi per park.

Magic Kingdom
If you have never been to Disney World…this is the park with the castle.  This park is definitely more for just being a big kid…more for fun than anything else.  You could spin the Buzz Lightyear ride or Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade as target practice, you could test your intestinal fortitude on the spinning teacups, or claim the Jungle Cruise and its a Small World as cultural exposure.  But this park is really just for the magic.

Hollywood Studios
If you have never been to Disney World…this is the park with the giant Mickey wizard hat.  This one is probably the most appealing for Jedi as Star Wars fans, currently housing the Star Tours ride, Jedi Academy training (for kids), and Star Wars Launch Bay store.  The rides also tend to be a bit more adult oriented as well, with the Rock’n’Roll Rollercoaster and the Tower of Terror, so for those who have fears of such rides, could be a good opportunity to test them.

Epcot
If you have never been to Disney World…this is the park with the giant silver ball.  Around the World in one day…sort of.  Epcot usually gets the shaft by people, as it does not boast many rides.  But it does have eleven pavilions from around the world (ten plus the US), so this is the park with the most culture.  The park was also designed to be a community of the future, so there are several attractions about the environment and sustainability, including greenhouses that provide most of the food for the park.

Animal Kingdom
Another cultural stop, Animal Kingdoms biggest attractions are the animals.  African Elephants, Butterflies, Giraffes, Gorillas, Hippopotamuses, Lions, Okapis, Rhinos, Tamarins, Tigers, and even some dinosaur based attractions.  This is a good park for learning about wildlife.

Typhoon Lagoon
The tropical themed of the two water parks, evidently currently being refurbished.  There are your standard waterpark slides, a wave pool, great for practice at staying afloat, and when I was there at least, you could swim with sharks.  I did it…I was terrified…that is why I did it.  There are also surfing lessons, though those are extra and afterhours I believe.

Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach is a winter themed water park, and the only Disney park I have never been to.  From what I understand, pretty much your standard water park.

 

Food
Obviously each park has several food options, but the one thing to touch on is the Dining Plan.  There are three main options:

  • Quick Service – Including 2 quick-service meals and 2 snacks per day. As well as a refillable drink mug eligible for refills at self-service and quick-service beverage locations.
  • Standard Plan – Including 1 Table service meal, 1 Quick Service Meal, and 2 snacks per day, plus refillable mug.
  • Deluxe Plan – Including 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, as well as refillable mug.

 

The FIRST Temple of the Jedi Order (TJO)

Way back in the early 00’s, there was a lot of talk about trying to create one standard for the community and merging sites.  While I think there is still some desire for an ultimate standard, for the most part, we have given up trying to make it one group.

In 2004, there were several larger sites, two of them being the Jedi Temple and  the Jedi United.  At the time, Jedi Temple had the most structured training program, while the Jedi United had the first real structured Knighthood trial with the JEE.  Myself, as well as several others were members of both sites, and discussions began about merging the two sites.  I personally had trained in the Blue Group at the Jedi Temple, and I was then holding the title of Secretary at the Jedi United, so I was taking on an administrative role with the merger (basically just taking care of the forums themselves with no involvement in the training and trials).

Initially, the plan was to make this merge gradual, slowly building the site and combining the knowledge of the two groups.  However, there was a snag, in that someone with administrative power over the Jedi United (who had also resigned their position on the council by that point) *coughOpiecough* planned to delete the forum.  I do not recall all the details of why, or how exactly we found out, but suddenly we had to push up our time table.

In the span of one night now, myself, with the help of Demetrius Vorak, threw together a forum and thus came about the prematurely born Temple of the Jedi Order.  We made a conscious decision to refer to it as the TJO in short, rather than keep the “of the” in the acronym, as there seemed to be too many “of the” sites out there using those in the acronym…we liked the shorter acronym.  The forum still sort of exists here, as I had access to the account that created the forum and managed to keep it through the ezboard purge.  All the discussions, I have since moved to a single archive forum, which I believe is open to the public, so you can go through and see how the discussions progressed for yourself, though most accounts are no longer associated with their original names, so it can get confusing if you do not know the players (and they did not use signatures.

Basically, it all happened too fast.  We took the leadership from both sites and combined them, but those from the Jedi Temple were waiting for those from the Jedi United to put up their test, and those from the Jedi United were waiting for those from the Jedi Temple to put up their training.  Other leaders who were assigned other positions were waiting for anyone to do anything.  People coming to the board were applying and wondering why their applications were not being processed.  Eventually, people became frustrated; leaders resigned and members left.

Some look at this as an example of why merging sites was a bad idea, but from an insiders view, I think it could have worked.  Had the proper time and steps been taken, the TJO could have thrived, instead it was rushed and caused us to lose two of the most popular sites of the time.  It is a lesson in not rushing.  It is also a lesson of weak leadership.  We needed someone or someones to step up and make a plan, form an agenda, but everyone was deferring to everyone else to do something.

Some time after the TJO dissolved, a new group took the name (how they came to choosing that name, I have no idea…hell, I do not even remember why TJO chose the name, or who even came up with it), but the group is completely different.  TotJO bases everything on Jedi being a religion, the training takes a minimum of six months, and to my understanding, none of the original members of TJO were involved.  TJO did not take a religious stance, and training took….well, I am not sure the training program was ever entirely finished, but it took a minimum of at least one year, probably more.

TJO had an important role in the history of the Jedi community, yet it has become mostly forgotten. The members are all but gone, and a new site has written over the memory, but I believe in knowing where you came from, and TJO was part of that.

Over-Analyzing

During my second year of college, I took an English Composition class.  For one of the papers, we spent a class going through stacks of magazines in groups, and each group was supposed to select an ad which disturbed them, and then write an essay describing the ad in detail and then explaining what was disturbing about it.

I remember her talking about one ad…with a guy wearing loafers and a goth looking girl coming after him.  She wanted us to be offended by the ad.  Sure, it was silly and unbelievable, but I did not find it offensive.

I did learn something important from that lesson, but not what the instructor intended, I am sure.  I learned that if you try hard enough, you can find meaning in anything, but that meaning is not what was intended, just what you projected.

There is a fine line between properly analyzing something and over-analyzing it.  It is like saying a word over and over again, to the point that it sounds weird and the meaning seems lost.  As Jedi, we need to learn to trust our instincts and gut reactions.  You cannot necessarily do so right out the gate, but gradually you learn through trial and error.  If you then start over-analyzing situations, you will discover meaning and intent that do not exist.

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Sometimes the curtains really are just blue.  Enjoy the color.  Move on.